I was pretty excited to stumble upon a repository of aerial imagery of Southern Ontario from 1954. After stitching the images together, you can get an insightful view of Toronto and the surrounding areas from the mid 50’s, or pre-suburban Toronto. Areas of note include Pearson and Billy Bishop Airport, Mississauga, and Tommy Thompson Park.

Explore the full map here.

Pearson Airport

You can still see the original runways from 1954 in the design of the airport today.

Billy Bishop Airport

Along with the airport being built up, you can see lakefront edge change. Still looking for some solid dates and data on these changes.


Pick any suburb, and you will see a similar pattern.

Tommy ThompsonPark

If you cycle to Tommy Thompson, you will notice all the debris on the island. It’s because the island is made of debris. It’s completely human-made.

Data Accessibility and Processing

A lot of processing was required to put this comparison together. There are insights to be made from this imagery by those who do not have the technical ability to process the data themselves. Historians, sociologists, and residents may not be trained to use imagery processing pipelines, but can make insights from viewing this map. I’m curious to see if there is a public appetite for this sort of displayable information, and consequentially how the curators of data repositories can take steps to make this data a bit more viewable. Ideally, i’d like to see libraries in Canada adopt an approach similar to the Open Access Maps program at NYPL.